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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 February 2007, 10:16 GMT
Guinea's curfew partially lifted
Guinean soldiers stand guard on the streets of the capital, Conakry (file picture)
The army has been ordered to quell protests in Guinea's towns
Guinea's army chief has partially lifted the curfew allowing people to go out between midday and 1800.

Martial law was declared on Monday by the president after demonstrations following three days of violence.

A BBC correspondent in Conakry says the capital is eerily quiet as businesses have shut down.

The US is to airlift some of its citizens amid continuing protests against martial law. Four people are reported to have been shot in Labe.

Hand-to-mouth existence

The head of the army, Gen Kerfala Camara, addressed the nation via the state media on Tuesday evening.

I have not slept since hearing the news... because I have been trying to understand what makes a human being kill an eight-year-old boy at point blank range
Guinean Dura Balde

As well as amending the curfew, he read out a long list of new measures which included the military having the right to search vehicles and homes and to use force if people resisted.

"I have ordered all of the armed forces and the paramilitaries to observe the curfew provisions across the whole country," AFP news agency quotes the general as saying.

On Tuesday afternoon, gunfire could be heard in suburbs of the capital and demonstrations in at least four other towns were suppressed by the security forces.

The BBC's Will Ross in Conakry says all businesses have shut down.

As the curfew continues life is getting harder for the many Guineans living a hand-to-mouth existence who would normally be out trying to raise enough money to buy food and bare essentials for the family, he says.

A few fishermen paddling off the coast in dug out canoes are the only visible workers.

Unease

Whilst the violence has reduced since the introduction of what is effectively martial law, there is a great deal of uncertainty in Guinea, our reporter says.

Since commercial airlines have cancelled their flights, the US government is sending a transport plane to Conakry to airlift eligible family members of the US embassy staff and private citizens
US embassy spokesman, Dakar

Nobody knows how long the military will run the country or, having handed over power, whether President Lansana Conte will get it back.

Meanwhile, the calls for Mr Conte to step down are still widely felt even if not visible in the form of demonstrations on the streets.

The US is preparing to airlift some of its citizens from Guinea, its embassy in Senegal announced.

"Since commercial airlines have cancelled their flights to and from Conakry, the US government is sending a transport plane to Conakry to airlift eligible family members of the US embassy staff and private citizens," an embassy spokesman said on Tuesday.

The unions called off last month's 18-day strike after Mr Conte promised to hand over powers to a prime minister.

But they renewed the strike action call after saying the man named on Friday for the post, Eugene Camara, was too close to Mr Conte.

Dressed in traditional robes, Mr Conte appeared on national television and radio to announce that the unrest amounted to a "state of siege" and the army had been ordered to "take all necessary measures".

Mr Conte said he had fulfilled the unions' demand that he appoint a prime minister, and accused "badly intentioned people" of hijacking the movement to flout government authority.


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